cyn·​ic | \ ˈsi-nik How to pronounce cynic (audio) \

Essential Meaning of cynic

: a person who has negative opinions about other people and about the things people do He's too much of a cynic to see the benefits of marriage. especially : a person who believes that people are selfish and are only interested in helping themselves A cynic might think that the governor visited the hospital just to gain votes. Reporters who cover politics often become cynics.

Full Definition of cynic

1 : a faultfinding captious critic especially : one who believes that human conduct is motivated wholly by self-interest Of course, there will always be cynics when companies make good-faith apologies and seek to follow through. — Andrew Ross Sorkin
2 capitalized : an adherent of an ancient Greek school of philosophers who held the view that virtue is the only good and that its essence lies in self-control and independence

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Other Words from cynic

cynic adjective

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The ancient Greece school of philosophers known as Cynics was founded by Antisthenes, a contemporary of Plato. Antisthenes is said to have taught at a gymnasium outside Athens called the Kynosarges, from which the name of the school, kynikoi, literally, “doglike ones,” may be derived. On the other hand, the name is most closely associated with the most famous Cynic philosopher, Diogenes of Sinope. Diogenes rejected social conventions and declared that whatever was natural and easy could not be indecent and therefore can and should be done in public. This shamelessness earned him the Greek epithet ho kyōn, “the dog.” In English, however, cynic and cynical have more to do with distrust of motives than shamelessness.

Examples of cynic in a Sentence

He's too much of a cynic to see the benefits of marriage. A cynic might think that the governor visited the hospital just to gain votes. Reporters who cover politics often become cynics.
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Recent Examples on the Web But a cynic might suggest that branding other objectively pro-life policies (gun control, humanitarian aid, death-penalty abolition) as such has not increased their traction in conservative circles. Amy Brady, Scientific American, 16 Aug. 2021 Hayes, who was raised in a working-class home in a small mill town, liked to point out that he wasn’t born a cynic. oregonlive, 2 Aug. 2021 My inner cynic wondered if her cadence was an affectation put on for people like me. Lauren Pinnington,, 17 May 2021 Yes, a cynic might wonder how Mitch McConnell could surpass himself in the obstruction department. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 13 Feb. 2021 Set in late-1960s Cairo, the six episodes follow hematology professor Refaat Ismail (Ahmed Amin), a chain-smoking cynic who believes only in what science can prove. Los Angeles Times, 24 Dec. 2020 With his trademark acidity and a perfect mix of optimism and deep bitterness, Fincher tells the tale of a cynic who finally awakens to his artistic talents. David Sims, The Atlantic, 10 Dec. 2020 Because Mank was a mere scribe, not a man of action, and a cynic who prided himself on maintaining a wry detachment from his surroundings, the role doesn’t present obvious opportunities for scene-stealing. Kyle Smith, National Review, 7 Dec. 2020 The Bears Ears region in southeastern Utah encompasses colorful canyons, mesas, rock formations and views vast enough to fill any cynic with wonder. Alex Ulam, WSJ, 14 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cynic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cynic

1542, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for cynic

Middle French or Latin, Middle French cynique, from Latin cynicus, from Greek kynikos, literally, like a dog, from kyn-, kyōn dog — more at hound

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Last Updated

30 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cynic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

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